By David Knox
Easton Corbin is excited about playing the Lynchburg Music Fest on Friday, Aug. 23.
He’s the headliner that night, closing Day 1 of the inaugural two-day festival, which is a big deal. And he loves playing live.
But he’s also looking forward to playing before an audience with whom he feels a real kinship.
“I grew up on a small cattle farm,” Corbin said. “I showed cattle all through middle school and high school, I was in 4-H, FFA. So I grew up just like a lot of kids (in Moore County).
“Farm life, I think, it’s something where you definitely learn a work ethic and how to be responsible, and also through those activities, I think it teaches you how to be good folks, how to be responsible folks. I wouldn’t trade growing up like that for anything in the world.”
Corbin, 37, made a big splash right off the farm with his 2010 debut album. The self-titled Easton Corbin album hit No. 4 on the Billboard Country chart and No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 200 all-genre chart. Two singles from the album shot up to No. 1 on the Country charts, “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll With It.” A third single, “I Can’t Love You Back,” climbed to No. 14.
You’d think there’d be nowhere to go but down, but Corbin has followed that with two more chart-busting albums. All Over the Road peaked at No. 2 on the Country album chart in 2012 and 2015’s About to Get Real shot to No. 1.
All told, Corbin has six Top 10 Country singles, all placing in the top 6 of the U.S. Country Airplay chart.
His most recent single, “A Girl Like You,” went to No. 6 in 2017. That song was not on an album, and neither is his recent offering “Somebody’s Gotta Be Country.”
Along the way, he won three American Country Music awards – Breakthrough/New Artist of the Year being one – and a slew of nominations from the Country Music Association, CMT Music Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards.
He said he does think his background has an effect on the songs he chooses to sing. He co-writes some of his material, but he also hunts for songs written by others that he can relate to and that reflect who he is.
“Absolutely, I pick songs that I can relate to and gravitate towards,” he said. “Growing up with my grandparents definitely influenced my love for more traditional country music.
“I loved Merle Haggard and George Jones and Keith Whitley … probably not what your normal teenager at that time would be listening to. There was just something about it that I connected to and just loved.”
Although, as Corbin said, the industry is “really a singles market out there now,” he’s in the process of finishing up a proper studio album. The release of a fourth album has been long awaited, delayed by label issues. He’s got a brand-new song he’s been playing live that’s very well-received and is a certainty to be on the new album.
“Yeah, I definitely am doing a whole record. We’re going to put it out there and see what happens.” As for a release date, he said he still doesn’t know. “But we’re definitely going to have something coming out.”
Some of his favorite songs are not the biggest hits. He will play those hits in Lynchburg, of course, but he also throws in favorites that were deeper album cuts.
“We do a medley of album cuts … we had people come up and tell us I wish you played my favorite song, and it’s an album cut … songs like ‘Tulsa, Texas’ tend to be fan favorites, and I definitely want those in my set.”
As mentioned, he is a road warrior. How does someone, some 10 years into his career with No. 1 records and so many live shows under his belt keep from getting jaded, keep it from being old hat?
He credits his faithful fans in large measure for continuing to make every night special.
“Oh, man, dude, I love going out there, those people are fired up and it fires me up even more. When you get out there and people start singing the words back to you, man, there’s nothing like it. I love it so much.
“Getting out there in front of people is one of my favorite things to do. The fans don’t have to come out there. It’s been my dream since I was 4, 5 years old to be a country singer and I’m living my dream. If I got to go back and tell that kid that I’m doing what I always loved doing and always dreamed of, he’d probably laugh, wouldn’t believe it. It’s kinda crazy.
“It’s something I always think about and I’m very fortunate and I am truly grateful for that and I definitely don’t take it for granted.”